Power play, as presidency, PDP, ministers jostle for NEPZA top job

The search for the successor of the outgoing Managing Director, Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Adesina  Agboluaje,  may have pitted the Presidency against top officials of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west and some powerful ministers in the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. 

Mr. Agboluaje, an architect, who was originally appointed in August 2004 for a four-year tenure, had his term extended for another two years in 2010 in line with the NEPZA Act, which stipulates six years as the mandatory limit for the tenure for the head of the organisation.

But at the time stakeholders expected him to prepare to vacate office latest on August 29, 2012 at the expiration of the mandatory six-year tenure, he was granted an extension for an additional two years that has stirred a huge controversy among stakeholders.

The provisions of the NEPZA Act stipulates, “The Managing Director, a member of the Board shall, subject to the provisions of this Decree, hold office for a period of four years from the date of his appointment as a member, and shall be eligible for re-appointment for one further period of two years and thereafter he shall no longer be eligible for re-appointment.”

The controversy has resulted in a huge power tussle by three groups, who are jostling to influence the appointment of the next managing director of  the organisation.

One of the camps is being spearheaded by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga; another by the South-West caucus of the PDP led by its National Secretary, ?lagunsoye Oyinl?la, while the third has as arrowheads some highly placed presidency officials who are piling pressures through the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.

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Mr. Aganga, who recently expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the country’s free trade zones, is said to have launched a subtle campaign to see his own appointee to the office.

“We are going to revisit the concept of the FTZs across the country with a view to reviewing their operations in order to align them to the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President and the new mandate of the ministry in the area of attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs), job creation and employment generation,” Mr. Aganga told stakeholders recently. 

The minister prefers a reliable candidate for the job of undertaking a comprehensive review and restructuring of the operations of the FTZs across the country in line with his ministry’s vision and mandate.

But the South-West caucus of the PDP, through Mr. Oyinl?la, is lobbying furiously for the position to remain in the zone, pointing out that Mr. Aganga had already been asked to forget about the search for a new MD for NEPZA.

The incumbent MD, Mr. Adesina, we are told is also working hard to remain in office,  reportedly pressuring the Presidency through the minister of aviation to get another tenure extension, at least till December.

Mr. Adesina’s alternative plan is to anoint one of the newly recruited general managers of the agency as his successor in case he fails in his bid to convince the Presidency to extend his tenure.

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